By Phil Willon
November 26, 2012 | 6:30 pm
The City Council of San Bernardino, which is in bankruptcy and facing a $45.8-million budget shortfall, on Monday voted to slash more than $26 million in spending and freeze debt payments as the financially troubled city struggles to stay afloat.
The austerity plan, a required step in the federal bankruptcy process, freezes vacancies in the Police Department even as the city deals with an increase in violent crime. The Fire Department’s overtime budget also was slashed by 35%.
The city already had stopped making payments to CalPERS, the state’s public employee pension fund, since filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection Aug. 1, a move city officials estimate will save San Bernardino more than $12 million.
“This is a document that I’m holding my nose and voting yes on,’’ said Councilwoman Wendy McCammack.
The council voted 5-2 in favor of the plan, which both Mayor Patrick Morris and City Atty. James Penman said was a mandatory step in the city’s effort to restructure its debts and repair its finances under federal bankruptcy protection.
At a recent hearing, federal Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury told San Bernardino officials that she expected the budget-cutting plan to be filed soon. Some of the city’s creditors have argued that San Bernardino does not qualify to file for municipal bankruptcy protection.
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